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NASA Issues Draft Solicitation for Potential $290M Astrophysics Exploration Program

NASA has released a draft announcement of opportunity seeking astrophysics research proposals as part of a potential $290M initiative under the Science Mission Directorate’s Explorers Program.

The 2021 Astrophysics Medium Explorers program will be principal investigator-led and is meant to support NASA’s efforts “to understand the Sun, Earth, Solar System, and Universe,” according to the draft AO.

NASA earmarked $3M in fiscal year 2022 obligations for the MIDEX program's Phase A to cover conceptualization, requirements definition and technology development activities.

The agency intends to choose one investigation effort that will move forward to Phase B, which covers technology completion and preliminary design activities.

Subsequent phases include final design and fabrication, system assembly, integration, testing and launch. Final activities will cover operations and sustainment as well as closeout work.

Funding will not cover costs for launch vehicles or launch services, the AO states.

According to NASA, the Explorer Program’s goal is to provide opportunities for science investigations that can be accomplished in up to 36 months and sent to orbit in less than three years.

MIDEX missions must be ready for launch by December 2028, the agency noted.

Responses to the draft AO are due on Feb. 25, 2021.

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